It’s common for people to leave Hedges Family Estate carrying bottles of the Red Mountain winery’s award-winning wines. But it’s not quite so common for people to show up with bottles already in hand – at least until now.
Hedges has agreed to be a “spoke” in a new “hub and spoke model” program that’s providing glass recycling in the Benton City-Red Mountain area.
BIG Recyclers and the Glass Packaging Institute are sponsors, along with Basin Disposal. Through the program, a “spoke,” or a glass recycling station, is set up at Hedges Family Estate, 53511 N. Sunset Road, Benton City.
Wineries, other businesses and residents can bring their glass recycling – limited to food and beverage bottles and jars that have been rinsed out – to Hedges on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A ribbon cutting was held on June 6, and the spoke will be staffed most Tuesdays throughout the year.
Annual memberships are available, with price tiers based on how much glass members expect to drop off each year. Since the program is starting mid-year, 2023 memberships will be for six months, starting at $30.
Nonmembers also can participate, paying 25 cents per pound.
Karla Riccobuono, director of hospitality for Hedges, said wineries in the area are excited. She was a main driver behind the Benton City spoke; she began making calls a few months ago looking for a way to arrange for glass recycling, and before too long Hedges was lined up as the local drop-off site for the new program.
“We wanted to help make it happen. We volunteered right away,” Riccobuono said. “Anything we can do to do our part is important.”
Hedges and Basin Disposal also are partnering on a separate pilot program to cut down on other kinds of landfill waste from wineries in the area.
“The program is particularly tailored to winery-specific materials, such as bottle glass and wine capsule foil, but also includes selected plastics, steel and aluminum, mixed paper and cardboard,” a statement from Basin Disposal said.
The company is working to educate participating wineries on how to identify what’s recyclable and how to clean items for recycling, it said.
Riccobuono said Hedges’ involvement in the two programs is part of its drive to be more sustainable.
“It goes with our regenerative and sustainable philosophy,” she said, noting that Hedges is a certified biodynamic and organic winery.
A ribbon-cutting for the Benton City spoke drew numerous officials involved in the project. Charlie Dietrich from Basin Disposal said, “we’re happy to be part of this. We’re looking forward to participating in it and seeing how it expands.”
As part of the program, Basin Disposal will haul the glass to a hub in Pasco, and from there the glass will be taken to Seattle or Portland to make new bottles.
A spoke also is set up in Walla Walla.
Chris Lueck, founder of BIG Recyclers, said the aim is to add more spokes in the future. In the next year, his group hopes to divert around 2,500 tons of glass from landfills. While it’s a “drop in the wine barrel” of the amount of glass that ends up in landfills in Washington, it’s a place to start.
“We’re hoping that other communities in central and eastern Washington pick up on this and say, ‘I want to be a part of it,’” Lueck said.
BIG Recyclers is hiring a coordinator for the spoke at Hedges in Benton City. The position is part-time. For more information, email Lueck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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